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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - slow starter motor

My 945 cc starts slower and slower. It is worse in cold weather, les or not there when the motor is warm. I tried a fresh battery, checked all the cables and where they meet, checked the earth cable. Checked the archives.... What else can I do?
Flip Brühl

Tried swaaping the starter motor itself?
Or move to a warm country :)
Jeremy Tickle

What oil are you using, Flip?
Guy W

Id check that there is no oil or grease anywhere in or on the starter... these things love to be dry

Water, oil, grease ....all make them want to go back to bed

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

'What oil are you using, Flip?'

Good point Guy. The Midget doesn't suffer from the oil being thick and cold as the battery is I suspect, over amped(?)
However the air cooled VW van is very susceptible to thicker oil making starting more difficult in cold weather. I used to use Comma Classic 20/50 but it is very thick when really cold so changed to Comma Sonic as it has a higher ZDDP content, is thinner and helps starting in cooller temps. Unfortunately Comma no longer make it so I'm looking for an alternative like Halso 15w40.
Jeremy Tickle

But was the 2nd battery you used, actually that good?

How many teeth on you bendix? Obviously the cold is a factor, but I have the same issue. I've been meaning to get the extra toothed bendix for my sprite. My Midget spins quickly off the same battery, that my Sprite spins slowly off.
Lawrence Slater

The starters get tetchy with age and wear. Worn brushes and commutator typically, and the motor getting full of greasy, carbon dust laden cack. They don't like the heavier resistance of a cold engine, but a warm engine is much easier.

Fortunately easy and cheap to fix if it's that.

Here's the rebuild kit for £15.99 (for an M35J motor - there is an earlier type used in older Spridgets, but I don't know what it's called).......

Lawrence, do your starters have different bendixes? (Bendices?)....

Have you tried swapping the motors over?
The extra tooth turns the engines slower, not faster, but with about 11% (IIRC) more torque.

The earlier Starter is the M35G
Dave O'Neill 2

Thanks greybeard. Next time they're out, I'll compare.
Lawrence Slater

<<The earlier Starter is the M35G>>

Brilliant! Thank you Dave.

I have the idea they are dimensionally compatible and that the (easily obtainable) late motor can be used in early engines. Do you know if that's correct?

I do have a 59 sprite I am the second owner. It has the original 13 H 559 starter. It did 200.000 km in 56 years now, so I guess it can be tired as greybeard wrote. The google images of the M35 J look like mine but the rebuild kit does not quote my starter number. Will it fit?

Flip Brühl

Here's the rebuild kit for the M35G motor Flip...

If you're doubtful I THINK the later M35J motor which is common and easy to find (and cheap) should fit your engine. I'm not completely certain of it though.

But I have a good spare if you need it.

The starters are interchangeable.

Personally, I prefer the 'G' type.
Dave O'Neill 2

Will the m35 rebuild kit fit the early model with metal inspection band?
Flip Brühl

Flip, as old as your starter is it could even be a M35H apparently. They were also used in Minis in '59 and '60 before being replaced by M35G. The number should be stamped on the case, along with a Lucas 5 digit part number. (The first three digits will be "250").

The M35J kit wil not fit an earlier starter - the mounting arrangement for the brushes is different.

You'd need the kit for M35G.

Have a look at this page:

....which is for mini spares, but the starters are the same and there is some good information there.

Good luck mate.

Although the starters are ostensibly the same as Minis, they aren't interchangeable, as the end bracket is different ~ the mounting holes on the Mini are closer together.
Dave O'Neill 2

Thanks a lot! I found the digits: it is a 35 G, 25022M. I will be ready for 7.40 pounds ex post and handling! I prefer to repair my own original starter. I do have matching numbers everywhere. I like that now. At first I was not interested but I learn more by repairing it myself, it is cheaper and my descendants will get more for the car.....


Flip Brühl

Thanks Dave for clearing a possible misunderstanding. I posted the link to illustrate the differences in brush sets etc. between the various motor types.

You're right the mini one won't fit without changing some bits over, but it was unwise of me to write "the starters are the same".


Good stuff Flip. If you're changing the bushes be careful - it's super easy to damage them!

Just to make you feel better, mine is the same. It has been approx 0 - 5 degrees here of late (top down weather!). I have worried that the car won't start as it will just do one "ca-chug" of the motor then stop. Once warm, it whizzed round perfectly fine.

20w/50 oil and a rebuilt engine probably a wee bit much for it. Yet to drive it regularly enough to find out if it is going to be a problem. I have eventually got it to start each time just by being persistent.

M Le Chevalier


Glad I am not the only one. I also have waited for 4 months till I was afraid that next time it should not start. Today was a nice dry day here in Holland. My sons Fulvia is in the garage next to the house, the sprite is in a garage 1 km away. So I decided to tackle the starter today in the garden. Ik took me 5! hours and it proved to be a broken wire and a lot of swarf. It starts perfect now. It costed me a new solder iron as the one I had was 25 watt only. I needed 80 watt to get the terminal so hot that I could remove the old wire.

Flip Brühl

Nice result Flip!

This thread was discussed between 22/11/2015 and 03/12/2015

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